4 Benefits of Flexible Operations in an Office Environment

Introduction


Factories around the world use Flexible Operations to reduce the effects of varying workloads in the manufacturing environment. It is a system whereby resources are set up and allocated in such a way that the organization can efficiently respond to changes in work type or workload.


You can however use Flexible Operations in the office as well. Here are four benefits of using Flexible Operations in the office environment.


1. Efficiency


In an office environment, flexible operations is a system where we train and cross-skill our personnel in areas outside of their core responsibility. The concept behind this provides you with access to personnel who can perform tasks outside of their core expertise. You are therefore able to support larger changes in your work and workload without having to hire and maintain resources.


Examples of this can be seen in small businesses. Due to the lack of operating cash-flow, overheads must be kept to a minimum in small businesses. They have to ensure that their resources are cross skilled to perform a variety of tasks. You may have noticed how busy coffee shops can operate with 2 to 3 employees. This is flexible operations in action. Coffee shop employees are trained and expected to perform a variety of tasks. To list a few, they are expected to perform as experts in coffee making (quality assurance), ordering and managing stock (supply chain management), customer service (sales), and many more.

2. Motivation


Flexible operations techniques show significant results in preventing boredom and motivating employees [1]. In addition to preventing monotony in work, the system enriches the employee's experience daily. The challenge of experiencing and using new skills builds confidence and moves you to a higher plane of motivation.


Our own experience in implementing Flexible Operations in businesses have shown a 2 fold increase in employee engagement scores following the first 3 months after implementation.


3. Team Work and Collaboration


Studies have shown that you are more likely to collaborate when you understand and empathize with each other. As demonstrated by the NAVY SEALs in Stealing Fire, true empathy is built through shared experiences [2]. Flexible operations are therefore ideal for promoting teamwork and collaboration as it facilitates you to share the experience of performing your colleague's tasks. You and your team can understand the intricacies and issues in areas outside of your core responsibilities and therefore empathize better.


4. Learning and Growth


Every year-end, managers across the world prepare a training plan for their teams. In most cases, these plans are either irrelevant or neglected. Flexible operations centralize the effort to train our teams and focuses their efforts on relevant skill gaps in the organization. In addition to this, the focus on experienced based learning enables you and your team to retain the skills for longer.


Conclusion


Lastly, Flexible operations should not be mistaken for head-count reduction. The idea is not to remove expertise, but to coach our personnel to perform in areas outside of their core expertise and responsibility.


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[1] Kane, A. A., Argote, L., & Levine, J. M. (2005). Knowledge transfer between groups via personnel rotation: Effects of social identity and knowledge quality. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 96, 56–71.

[2] Stealing Fire, Kotler & Wheal.

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